Italian blue helmets to deploy in Lebanon on Saturday, UN Force Commander says

1 September 2006
UNIFIL Commander Alain Pellegrini

The first large contingent of Italian troops will arrive in Tyre on Saturday as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Force Commander announced today.

The first large contingent of Italian troops will arrive in Tyre on Saturday as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Force Commander announced today.

The news came as Lebanese Armed Forces this morning began deploying in the eastern sector of the Blue Line, an area previously vacated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

“This is the first time since the inception of UNIFIL that the Lebanese Army has deployed this far south on Lebanese territory,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Some 880 officers and soldiers and 158 vehicles from the Navy San Marco Regiment and the Army Lagunari “Serenissima” Regiment will disembark tomorrow on two beaches next to the Rest House starting at 9 a.m. They will then proceed to a staging camp located in the area of Jabal Marun (Burj Qallawiyah) for a briefing on their mission before being deployed to the area of operations.

This is the largest single deployment of additional troops to UNIFIL II since it was established last month by Security Council resolution 1701, which mandated an increase of UNIFIL to up to 15,000.

Welcoming the valued contribution from Italy, UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini said, “These troops have a challenging job ahead of them and I am fully confident that they are up to the task.”

He paid tribute to the San Marco and Lagunari Regiments, adding, “All of us at UNIFIL are honored to serve with them here in South Lebanon.”

The San Marco Regiment has participated in recent years in missions in Lebanon in 1982; in the Persian Gulf in 1987 and again during the Gulf War in 1991; in Somalia in 1992; in Albania in 1997; in East Timor in 1999-2000, and in Kosovo.

The Lagunari Regiment is the only amphibious asset of the Italian Army and belongs to those units which are specifically trained to be sent abroad either for operational or humanitarian tasks. The Regiment had been deployed in Bosnia and in Kosovo and conducted reconstruction work in Iraq during the last war.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL is also helping Lebanese by providing medical and veterinarian assistance in the areas hardest hit by the recent war.

The “Ghazar” company of the Force’s Indian Battalion has assigned a doctor, nurse and veterinarian to help attend to the persons and animals living in and near the isolated villages that dot the Blue Line.

In the mountainous area, each day the teams treat as many as 200 persons and give some 1,000 livestock anti-parasite medicine and other inoculations.

“We are very grateful for their visits because they are the only ones who are coming here,” said local resident Nadia Hamad Nabar. “They are providing all the assistance we need because we are isolated in this area.”

 

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